There are a lot of benefits to au pairing down under! Australia is a majestic place filled with diverse and active people, beautiful city/landscapes, delicious barbie’s (BBQ’s) and of course the alluring beaches. Although there are some important things to keep in mind when embarking on this au pair adventure...so read on, mate!
Choosing a Host Family
Length of Program
Between 3 - 12 months (depending on your visa specifications) with a 6 months maximum per host family.
Keep in mind your main purpose is to provide excellent childcare and if you feel like some of you “responsibilities” start to fall outside of childcare, it’s imperative that you have an open, honest conversation with you host family right away so that the expectations can be further discussed. Clear communication with your host family is key to your overall success as an au pair. Always treat the children lovingly and act as an older sister or brother mentor to them (minus the bickering over who gets the bathroom longer).
Some of the most popular cities in Australia are: Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Cairns, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra.
On average, an au pair in Australia can expect to earn between $150 - $230 AUD per week (aka “pocket change”) which is about $7 AUD per hour. An au pair will work between 20 - 40 hours plus 1 or 2 evenings per week. You will usually get 2 days every week as well. You should receive your own room in the house and three meals per day. Note that the travel costs to and from Australia are not required to be covered by the host family. Typically, if you are with a family for 6 months, it is appropriate to ask for 2 weeks off (aka “holiday time”).
In case of sickness, the host family should consult a doctor if needed and your allowance should still be paid during this period. In case of an emergency, it is highly recommended that you have your own health and travel insurance coverage during your stay in Australia because your host family is not responsible to cover your medical or emergency costs.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Start Looking
Searching and choosing an au pair placement agency can be daunting because there is so much information out there, but going through an agency is the safest and least-stressful route to take when applying for au pair jobs in Australia. Here are some places to get started: Au Pair Australia, Interexchange, Au Pair World and Au Pair.com.
Typically, you will have to complete the required paperwork online and go through an interview process through your chosen agency.
Depending on the agency you go choose (their services will vary), you can expect to be placed with a carefully screened host family, pre-arranged transportation from the airport to your new “home”, training material, a welcome packet, a newsletter subscription, introductions to other au pairs in the area and possible discounts on au pair club travel/excursions, etc.
Remember: You will pay an agency fee, but it’s worth it if you’re not sure where to get started or don’t feel confident in your abilities to coordinate your own au pair exchange.
Depending on your country of origin, you will apply for one of two visas: the Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462)
The interview is important because it gives the host family a sense of who you are, what your personality is like and if you would be a potentially good fit for their family. It’s just as important for you to find the right host family as it is for them to pick a candidate that will fit into their lives. You can expect them to ask you things about your previous childcare experience, your language skills, where you live, educational background and driving history (obviously driving internationally has different laws and and they will want to know whether it’s a possibility for you to operate a vehicle safely for the sake of planning the children’s activities, etc.).
Bringing a small gift from your home country is a nice touch when you first meet your host family. Also, writing a letter prior to your arrival is fairly standard as well. Overall, Australians are very down to earth and they value authenticity/sincerity. Pretentiousness is not a quality that is appreciated and they can relate to someone who can poke fun at themselves (in other words, don’t take yourself too seriously). Australians highly value personal relationships, but tend to be informal in social settings. Barbie’s (BBQ’s) are quite common and it’s polite to bring a dish to pass or some beer/wine to share. Australians are direct communicators and use colorful language (you’ve been warned…)